In the wake of a housing market that left many homeowners with a foreclosed home, a potential home buyer may expect to find abandoned homes -- especially in some of the nation's hardest-hit real estate markets.
So is making an offer on an abandoned home the right move for you?
Before you take that step, there are a few issues you'll want to consider. First, take a look at the 10 cities with the highest percentage of abandoned homes in the nation. According to 24/7 Wall St., they are:
- Lakeland, Florida, where 27.7% of homes are abandoned;
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Georgia, with a 28.1% home-abandonment rate;
- Boise City-Nampa, Idaho, 28.2%;
- Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Michigan, 28.7%;
- Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada, 28.8%;
- Wichita, Kansas, 30.4%;
- Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama, 30.6%;
- St. Louis, Missouri/Illinois, 31.0%;
- Jacksonville, Florida, 31.3%; and
- Indianapolis-Carmel, Indiana, 31.8%.
With more abandoned homes comes more foreclosure sales. So these cities might be the perfect environment for eager home buyers.
Buying an Abandoned Home
Despite the housing bubble burst of the last decade, more and more Americans are ready to take that first step to home ownership.
Most of these abandoned homes are in some phase of foreclosure. But depending on state laws, the process of satisfying banks and other credit holders might take years.
If you choose to buy a home in a state that allows foreclosure by power of sale, like Missouri, a foreclosed home can be sold to a potential homebuyer without court supervision. Still, there are some pitfalls any abandoned home purchaser should know.
Before you sign the deed on an abandoned home in foreclosure, remember the following:
- Get your funds in order. A foreclosed home might be cheaper, but the deed holder will still want you to either have cash or a solid mortgage lined up.
- Check county records. If you are not purchasing the home through a judicial sale, you might not be aware of any liens or strings on the property. Checking the county deed records should clear up any tax or ownership issues.
- Have the house inspected. Abandoned homes can often be "fixer-uppers," and having the home inspected and appraised can give you a better idea of what the house is worth and how much work needs to be done on it.
- Bid knowing your budget. Your bid on an abandoned home should take into account future renovations, the value of the home, and any closing costs.
By being thorough and prudent about your abandoned home search, a property owner in one of these Top 10 cities can snag a fabulous property at often a fraction of the cost. Because the home-buying process can get quite involved, it may be best to consult an experienced real estate lawyer for guidance.
- The FindLaw Guide to Surviving a Foreclosure (FindLaw)
- Watch Out for Foreclosure Scams (FindLaw)
- Ex-Sonic Robert Swift Moves Out of Foreclosed Home, Leaves Mess (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Buy a Foreclosure Home, Risk Having it Taken Away, MA Court Rules (FindLaw's Decided)